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The Appalachian

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The Appalachian

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The Appalachian

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Match up: Appalachian vs. Furman

The Match Up

The Mountaineers have a chance to clinch a record-tying 12th Southern Conference title with a win in the season finale against Furman.

App’s upset against No. 1 Georgia Southern last week opened the race for the title. Now four teams still have a chance for a share.

However, Furman is not one of those teams. The Paladins come in at 3-5 this season, but will look to spoil Appalachian’s championship season.
The two met last year in nearly the same scenario. Coming off an upset against No. 1, the Mountaineers suffered a letdown the following week and fell to Furman 10-20.

Furman is also the only conference team that boasts a winning record all-time against App (22-17-3), according to goasu.com.

But App has been stellar when the conference is on the line. They have won the last eight title-clinching games by an average of 20 points.

How ASU can win

Last week, the duo of quarterback Jamal Jackson and wide receiver Sean Price proved to be unstoppable. Both players gained career highs in yards against one of the nation’s top defenses.

Furman’s defense allows the most passing yards per game in the conference, according to goasu.com, so another big game could be in store for all the receivers.

The Mountaineers rank right behind them in pass defense, but have a ball hawking secondary that leads the conference with 12 interceptions.

If App can avoid a letdown after the emotional win at Georgia Southern and play up to their capabilities, they should end the day as SoCon champs.

How Furman can win

The Paladins could find an advantage in their run game. Furman has a 1,000 yard rusher in their backfield, Jerodis Williams, and the Mountaineers give up over 200 yards per game.

Williams is also the nation’s leading kick returner, averaging 36.8 yards a return, according to goasu.com. Any lift he can give on special teams will help out an offense that struggles to score points.

Despite their poor numbers, the Paladin’s start upperclassmen at nine positions on defense, led by all-conference linebacker Mitch McGrath.

The veteran group will need to have one of their best performances of the year and slow down App’s high-powered offense.

Last year they held App to 10 points and caused four turnovers that was the deciding factor in the game.

The Bottom Line

It’s all on the line this week for the Mountaineers.  Win, and they are SoCon champs. Lose, and ASU could be looking at a third place finish.

This game could even have an impact the team’s seeding in the upcoming playoffs, as well, and whether or not they receive a first round bye.

With so much riding on this single game, and a Black Saturday crowd backing them up, it is hard to foresee an emotional let down.

Story: JORDAN DAVIS, Sports Reporter

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